Her job was trying to unite young children who had been held in concentration camps or as forced labourers with their families.
The unavoidable consequence was daily wrangling with the question, ‘How could apparently ordinary people commit such extraordinarily terrible acts?
It’s an interesting mix, it draws you in, and I can’t help but think of detective Jackie Reid, sharing details of a case. Since then a string of meaty theatre roles – including the David Harrower monologue Ciara, for which she won her second Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland accolade in a row, and her appearance in last year’s triumphant James Plays – have repositioned Duff as a well-regarded actor, not just that woman off the telly.
Taggart may have ended in 2010 and Duff has firmly reestablished herself since as a fine stage actor, but, of course, Reid is still the part for which she’s best known. But such professional challenges can take their toll, to judge by Duff’s serious mood. But I’ve found this one of the most difficult so far,” Duff admits. It used 70 hours of interviews between Sereny and Stangl, conducted over two months.
My dad had been torpedoed in the war and my mum had been blown across the room in Dennistoun. And every Sunday night, The World At War would come on.” She hums the theme tune.
“My dad would harmonise to that tune…”The nostalgic moment is suddenly cut short when two girls arrive at our table.
In fact, she might just be a little nostalgic about her.“There’s not one thing about Taggart that wasn’t a positive,” she says.
I hope it gives a flavour of that interview style and that they see that Sereny and Stangl had a meeting of minds.”Duff hopes that the play’s audience, arriving in the belief that they are familiar with the subject matter, as she did, will discover that Sereny’s work can still offer a new insight into the horror of the Final Solution.
“It’s about, what does this actor need from me and what do I need from him? We had a conversation this morning that everything we’ve gone through over the last couple of weeks can only be an absolute aid to this piece.
We’ve come through something.” Duff speaks softly but with some urgency.
They leave, delighted, looking at their phone and giggling as they go. The charming TV celebrity has returned to her earnest inquiry into an architect of the Holocaust.
“We had a forensic psychologist come in to talk to us about psychopaths,” she says.